Even If: How do we trust God when things go sideways?

Festoon-lightingI recently heard a song that could have been written about a season in my life. The lyrics perfectly describe a situation that I went through over a decade ago…but whose reality still grips my heart. It’s a song by the band, MercyMe and it’s called ‘Even If’.

Verse 1:

They say, ‘Sometimes you win some / Sometimes you lose some.’

And right now, right now I’m losing bad.

I’ve stood on this stage night after night, reminding the broken it’ll be alright,

But right now, right now I just can’t.

It’s easy to sing when there’s nothing to bring me down.

But what will I sing when I’m held to the flame like I am right now?

 

My husband and I were just a couple years into blending our family. Things had been challenging in every arena but our love and gratitude for this fresh new start was high.

And then the bottom fell out. We were taken to court by someone who wanted to see us fail. This person slandered us, sent us threatening letters, and attacked our character, our finances and the peace in our home. I can’t go into more detail than that, but suffice it to say that the months leading up to the day in court were fraught with anxiety and fear.

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Fruit that Remains: Excerpts from my journals that nourished me and might encourage you, too!

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Fruit That Remains: Lessons from my journals. These are excerpts from my journals over the years. Some are more current than others. I love going back into my journals because I always get refreshed and re-learn the lessons that the Lord has taught me and that I have faithfully scribed.

 

I can’t take it anymore! I’m so overwhelmed I feel like I’m going to have a breakdown!

Have you every felt like that? I have – many times! On one such occasion, I had been trying to make everything work in my own strength but I was in a season where there were too many demands and not enough of me to go around.  I had too much on my plate and plainly needed a clone of myself to get all of my work done, let alone things at home and in ministry. It was just TOO MUCH. So I brought my anxiety to the Lord.

1 Peter 5:7 – Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

So in this instance, here is how the conversation went down in my journal:

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Yikes! It’s time to make a change: How to find the strength you need

Feet overlooking waterHave you ever known that there is a change that you need to make in your life but you have absolutely NO desire to execute that change? Have you ever wrestled with the impossibility that you will be able to follow through or be successful in making the change you know is needed? Maybe you know that you need to start an exercise regime, but you’re completely overwhelmed by the prospect of all that is involved with getting to the gym, going out for a run or walk on a regular basis or of sticking out the commitment to be physically fit.  Or maybe there is a habit that you know-that-you-know you need to quit but the thought of living without “…” is daunting and totally unappealing.  You hate the habit but you NEED the thing you’re attached to, and it makes you almost panicky to think of life without it. Or maybe you want to add healthy choices into your life like better ways of eating, being a more connected friend or serving in your community, but the thoughts of what the cost will be and everything in your life that will have to adjust in order to make room for this new lifestyle is keeping your feet in the blocks.

If any of these life challenge screen shots describes you, I GET IT!! I have been there in each and every one of those tight squeeze places where who I am and who I know I am supposed to be are as far apart as the edges of the Grand Canyon.  But I have a word of encouragement for each of us.  The good news is that God knows that we cannot traverse that chasm in our own strength.  He sets the vision for the next place that He wants to take us and He is fully prepared to get us there.  The problem is that since we’re locked in these things called “Time” and “Space”, we get freaked out when the change doesn’t happen overnight.  We would prefer that the moment the revelation hits that we should start to exercise, cut out sugar, stop cussing, turn our gossiping and critical mouth into a thankful and praising mouth, or start being faithful in reading the Bible and prayer, that the desire and the ability to execute would also be there.

But it doesn’t work that way. Unfortunately, I have found that the Preview of Coming Attractions comes way before either the desire or the ability.  And even once the desire comes, it can be quite a while before the strategy or the ability come as well.  And that can cause a lot of frustration (What is wrong with me? Why do I still fall short in this area? Why can’t I quit “…”? Why can’t I start “…”? and so on).  But from this frustration is born the moment of choice that God needs from us. He will never shove His will down our throats.  He simply pulls back the curtain and lets us see the better way but at the end of the day, it will always be our choice whether we want to go down the path that will bring life and freedom or remain in the place where we are.

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Stamina: Strategically increasing our stamina gives us the strength to finish well

Stamina is an urgent need if we are going to finish the race that the Lord has set before us. Therefore, we must increase our stamina.Running man.jpg

To illustrate what I mean by increasing stamina, let me use my friend as an example. My friend runs long distances and has a trainer. When she began training for her first marathon, her trainer explained to her that she would have to increase her stamina by 10% every week – and no more. Her trainer strategically increased her body’s muscular ability to handle longer distances by making gradual and consistent demands on her stamina. He gradually increased the distance that she would run and then the pace that she would run each new distance. His goal was to prevent her body from collapsing and becoming injured. Injury caused by overzealous training would backfire and take her out of the race completely. But by the same token, not pushing her level of stamina consistently enough would cause her to be underdeveloped when faced with the pressure of race day.

The same is true for us in the things of the spirit. We must consistently and strategically increase our stamina in the things of God. But let me say this: increasing stamina is never fun and it requires focus and self-discipline. It requires vision for the goal that we wish to attain. Do you wish to be closer to the Lord? Do you wish to hear His voice more clearly? Do you wish to shed unwanted habits or sin? Then increasing your stamina in prayer, in worship, and in directing your thoughts toward God will be key. Coming into His presence regularly and increasing the amount of time that you can focus your thoughts, your worship and your praise upon Him is critical for increasing our spiritual stamina.

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Thought for the Day: Let the Redeemed of the Lord “Say So”!

Psalm 107 verse 2 says, “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so whom He has redeemed from the hand of the adversary.”

We have been redeemed from all the power of the enemy. Every spiritual blessing has been laid up for us in Heavenly places and purchased for us by the precious blood of Jesus.

Ephesians 1:3

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,

But Satan is not going to roll over and give up ground without a fight. So we must ‘say so’ in every area. We must declare our place in Christ and remind ourselves and the adversary of our position in Christ.

1 Peter 5:8

Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

John 10:10

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

If we are being stolen from in the area of finances, of health, or in our families, the blessing belongs to us. And we must say so. We must declare what belongs to us because of the blood of Jesus that Satan cannot resist. He does not want us to realize the power in the blood that has been shed for us and that has obtained for us a great inheritance. But we are called to give thanks unto the Lord for his goodness and for his mercy that endures forever! And we are called to declare the victory of Christ over all of the enemy’s power in the Earth. God has redeemed his children back to the place of victory and glory and with our mouths we declare this victory every time we “say so”!

Revelation 12:11

And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony (their “say so”)*, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.

*parenthesis mine.

Now you:

  • Do you understand and believe that if you are a born again believer that you are spiritually seated with Christ in heavenly places, far above all spiritual forces that could ever tie you down?
  • Do you know what the victory of Christ on the cross has purchased for you and the new position of glory that you have been given as a result of your faith in Jesus?

At the moment you became born again, your new birth recreated you inside where no one can see, and you became a new creature in Christ.  All that you are in your inner man is now TOTALLY acceptable to God.  You used to be His enemy. But if you have placed your faith in Jesus as your substitutionary sacrifice, you are now God’s CHILD.  You can never earn more of His love or lose it through your mistakes and failures.  Furthermore, you have been restored to the place of being covered with God’s glory (His nature).  You have great power and authority on this earth as a child of the King of Kings.  All power, rule and dominion other than God’s is spiritually under your feet.  When the Church of Jesus Christ really, REALLY gets this truth locked down, we are going to change this world with the love of God. The enemy hopes you never fully grasp who you are in Christ, because then his lies and traps will fail to work.  You will walk in your freedom and set others free as well!

For a deeper understanding and greater insight into who you are in Christ, I recommend the following reading:

  • Who We Are In Christ: Discovering Your Eternal Identity by Joe McIntyre
  • The Blood and the Glory by Billie Brim
  • The Believer’s Authority by Kenneth Hagin

God bless!

Welcome to my readers from…

Pilot MountainI want to extend my warmest and most grateful welcome to my readers from all over the world! So far, I have readers from Nigeria, Rwanda, Somalia, Great Britain, Brazil, Mexico, China, India, Norway, Denmark, Canada, the Netherlands, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, The European Union, Israel, Ireland, Spain, Austria, Kenya and more!

I am praying for you all and for your nations to come to Christ.  I know that many of you live in nations that are torn by war and civil unrest. Others of you live in areas of severe poverty and great need. Others of you live in comfort, but your country is oppositional to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  You risk your reputation or your life when you stand up for your faith.

Some of you stumbled upon my blog by accident not knowing who I was or what I was going write to about.  I’m glad you did and I hope that you were touched and encouraged by what you read!

Thank you ALL for reading my blog and for allowing the Holy Spirit to speak to your hearts. I pray that my life, my trials, my vulnerability and my time with the Lord benefit you in some way.  The only way that I could be more blessed is if I could see you all face-to-face and learn who you are, what you struggle with, what your lives are like and…wait for it…what food you like to cook!!

If you want to leave a message in the Comments space at the bottom (the very bottom!) of each blog post, I would LOVE to hear from you.  You have no idea how much I would enjoy that.

But in the meantime, be blessed and keep reading! I recommend that you subscribe to my blog on the Home page so that you don’t miss any posts. Each post will be delivered to your email inbox. Getting the updates only on Facebook is not always the most reliable way to stay up-to-date on posts.

May God bless with you grace and peace,

Cecily

Don’t Quit: Keys to ‘keeping on’ when your drive seems broken(Part 1)

Man and mountainI have a problem with a serious urge to quit when things are unraveling.  Or when the uphill trudge just goes on and on with no end in sight.  I assume that it’s tightly braided into my perfectionism and my need for relentless improvement.  One of my core values (my default personality) drives me to constantly try to improve myself and the things I’m involved with. That’s not a bad mindset until things don’t improve – or even worse, they fall apart.  #Reality.

My perfectionist tendencies drive me to abhor making mistakes (although that doesn’t seem to inoculate me from them), and to have other people notice how flawlessly I perform my tasks. GAH! That’s nuts. And not achievable.  Because it’s not an achievable goal to always succeed, always improve, always have people remarking about how impressive my achievements are, I tend to quit – at least I really, really want to quit!

I didn’t know I had a problem with this until recently.  But looking back over the history of my life I realize that I have been this way for-EVER!  My Mom can attest to the fact that I quit tennis when I was a kid because I wasn’t the best.  In later years, I tried golf and quit because I hacked the course to pieces the first two times I played,  Because I wasn’t an instant PGA golfer, I gave it up with the excuse that I don’t have time for golf (partially true).

I have quit ministry and volunteer commitments because life got too busy and I couldn’t handle the stretch of having to fit SO much into one life. I have quit friendships because it was too much work to maintain them. I didn’t mean to quit them. It just happened because I resigned my ownership in the relationship. #MissedOpportunities

  • Do you have missed opportunities because you quit before you could cross the finish line?
  • Do you struggle with quitting?
  • Do you have regrets about things or relationships that you have quit?

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Thought for the day: Holding unforgiveness against those who have hurt us is as self-destructive as drinking poison hoping that the other person will die.

Girl looking upThought for the day: Holding unforgiveness against those who have hurt us is as foolish and self-destructive as drinking poison hoping that the other person will die.

Unforgiveness is a trap of the enemy based on legalism.  Legally, we have the right to hold people’s offenses against them.  We have the right be feel angry, hurt and ripped off. We have the right to wish bad things for them. We have the right to accuse them in our hearts for everything that they have committed against us. And the enemy loves nothing more than when we do that.  Satan is the Accuser of the Brethren and a legalist, so when we accuse others we join him in his efforts.  When we accuse, we act like him and we don’t even know it.

Revelation 12:9-11 – And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.10 And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.

But when we forgive, we act like Jesus who kept silent even while he was being falsely accused, lied about and wrongly sentenced to death. He forgave those who were murdering him AS they were standing there watching him die.  

And on top of that, Jesus forgives us from ALL of our sin and iniquity when we come to him in repentance. All that we have done in rebellion against the holiness of our merciful God is NOTHING in comparison to what others have done against us and if we don’t agree with that statement, we are not in touch with the depth of sin that we have been forgiven of. 

Ephesians 1:7 – In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace

In the Lord’s Prayer, the Lord is specific in His command that we forgive those who have trespassed against us.  He is so clear that it should shake us all out of our complacency when it comes to holding unforgiveness to other people’s accounts.  God will forgive us AS we forgive others.  So the degree to which we clear the accounts of those who have debts against us is the degree to which we ourselves are forgiven by God.  Oh boy.

Matthew 6:12 – And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

Now you:

  • Are you holding unforgiveness against anyone? 
  • Do you feel that their sin against you is something you cannot forgive?
  • Do you feel as though this person will be “off the hook” if you let them go in forgiveness?

When you forgive someone, you set yourself free.  Their sin is between then and God, not between you and God. When you forgive, you are not saying that what happened is OK. It probably isn’t OK at all.  But what you are saying is that you will not be their judge and jury.  You are allowing God to handle the situation.  He works in ways of love of redemption that are far above our understanding. 

When you are in Heaven with Jesus, you will not have this hurt.  But you will have the record of whether or not you forgave.  Unforgiveness will be a point of separation between you and God on that day.  Will it be worth losing your place in heaven to hold on to this fleeting pain? God wants to heal your heart right now and give you ability to begin the process of total forgiveness.  

Let’s pray:

Lord Jesus, I ask for Your help forgiving (name their name/s).  Please lead me in the path of forgiving and letting go of this pain and hurt.  I release to You those who hurt me.  I forgive them and let them go into Your hand.  I ask that You would help them to be all that You created them to be.  Help me to become all that You created me to be.  I will not allow this pain to identify me and define me any longer.  I am free to love with God’s love which is shed abroad in my heart.  My life reflects the fruit of love in every season.  I forgive and receive Your forgiveness for my sins, Father. Thank you for the grace to forgive and not allow the enemy to refresh these hurts in my mind.  I set up a hedge of protection by the blood of Jesus around myself and my thoughts as I walk out obedience to You, Lord.  I renounce all patterns of unforgiveness and decide as an act of my will that I will no longer attach myself to the sins of others through unforgiveness.  I release myself from them in Jesus Name. I am free, Amen!

 

The Season of Breakthrough: It’s time to go to the next level

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On Sunday, May 21st, the Lord impressed this word on my heart and I shared it with our congregation. (See note at bottom of post.)

I the Lord declare that this is a new season.  This is a season of Breakthrough – a season where you are rising to another level. This is a season where obstacles are being removed, shackles are being pulled off, and fetters are being shattered by My Spirit says the Lord. You as My children, and you as My Church, ascend up the steps to My Presence, says the Lord.  You are being drawn my My grace. Rivers of mercy, rivers of My lovingkindness are drawing you as a lover is drawn to the Bridegroom.  You hear My voice.  Your heart is being tenderized in this to love Me, to yearn for Me, to know that there is no other satisfaction; that this earth has nothing for you; that all that you long for and all that you are is found in Me and in Me alone.  You will no longer be satisfied by other lovers. You will no longer be satisfied by paltry things.  For it’s the richness of My presence that will draw your heart and satisfy your soul. You will yearn for Me in the night season.  You will yearn for Me when you wake in the morning.  Your heart will be so stirred by My voice.  Obedience will be easy.  You will walk in My ways.  You will run in the paths I lay out for you.  And you will show forth My Glory in a season where the darkness wants to roll in.  My Light is brighter. My light shines forth and drives back darkness.  You show forth My Power and My glory as My children and as the Church. And now I say, Children, turn your heart to Me. Turn your heart to Me. As you turn your heart to Me, you are drawn. And you will find Me when you seek Me with all your heart, says the Lord.

Now you:

  • Do you need to see breakthrough in certain areas of your life or in the lives of those you love?
  • Has there been a particular issue that has caused you to be in bondage or kept you contained?

Know this: It’s never God’s will for you to be bound or contained by anything.  If you are a child of God, your position has already been established in God’s Word in the book of Ephesians. According to Ephesians 2:6 you are seated with Christ in heavenly places. “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,”.

And according to Ephesians 1:21, Jesus Christ is far above all rule and authority and power and dominion and every name that is named.  So where does that put you? Far above everything that would try to push you down and place you in a prison of doubt, fear and lack – if you remain in Christ.

Ephesians 1:19B-21: “These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might 20 which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.

God has declared that this is a season of Breakthrough.  I am not the only one who is hearing this from God.  Many ministries all over the world have declared the same thing. And when the Almighty God, Creator of Heaven and Earth, speaks that He is moving in a certain way, it is our responsibility to get on board with what He is doing and not tarry. The Lord creates the seasons and we align our faith to them.  That’s the part we play in response to the voice of the Lord.

This is really good news! In these last days, God is pouring out His Spirit to draw us closer, to hear Him more clearly, to obey Him more completely and to love Him passionately.

Be blessed!

Note: It may seem from my two recent posts regarding prophetic words from the Lord that I do this every Sunday, but I don’t.  Recently, however, the Lord has been drawing me into a season of fasting and prayer where He is speaking to me and pulling me closer than I have ever been. I sense His Presence and His leading so much more clearly right now. I know that He has a purpose for this and I am trying to be as yielded as I can.

If you like this blog, I would love to hear from you! You can leave a comment at the bottom of this page and sign up on the Home Page to receive all of my blog posts in your email inbox.  That way, you won’t miss a post and you can read them at a convenient time for you!

Thought for the day: God wants all so He can increase us

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In Genesis 26:4, God promises Abraham that He will multiply his descendants, make them as numerous as the stars in the sky and will give them all of the land that Abraham has been sojourning in.

Gen 26:4: I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and will give them all these lands, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed

But what is important to notice is that this promise is reiterated to Abraham after he had pursued heart-wrenching obedience to God by offering his only son, Isaac, as an sacrifice to the Lord. (See Genesis 22) God stopped him from this action and provided a ram in the thicket as the sacrifice, but Abraham’s heart was purified in the crucible of testing and he came forth as gold.

After this testing in the Refiner’s Fire, Abraham received that word in the Scripture we just read. I believe that this timing is not coincidental as I believe that the God Who instituted the law of sowing and reaping understands that what we sow in our lives is what will be multiplied.  God didn’t want Abraham’s self-life and self-determination to be what was multiplied as the stars in the sky.  He wanted the faith that would propel Abraham towards radical obedience to be what was multiplied in the earth.  So once the dross had been burned away and the lone heart of desperate longing for the Lord was left, God spoke the word of multiplication over Abraham and his seed.

The depth of purity of Abraham’s trust and devotion to his God, was the breadth of the multiplication of his descendants. Abraham’s descendants, both natural and spiritual descendants, are billions strong now and this corresponds to the depth of his faith.

When God allows us to go through the crucible, it is to refine us.  He doesn’t want to multiply wrong motives and our self-life.  He wants to multiply us but He needs our worldly attachments to become infinitely small so that He can become infinitely big.

Religion keeps God small and most people are happy with that arrangement because they can maintain their lusts and desires along with what they believe is God. But if truly have God, we have a fire – a Consuming Fire.  And this Fire will not allow the weeds and thorns to strangle the harvest and overtake the fruit we can produce for the Kingdom.

If our hearts are truly toward the Lord, we will welcome the Refiner’s Fire.  He is loving and gentle toward us, but unrelenting toward anything that will steal our destiny and possibly rob us of our eternal place with Him.

Galatians 6:7: Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.

Let’s pray:

Dear heavenly Father, we come to You as the Holy Fire.  We know that your holiness is as pure and consuming as fire and we desire to be changed and purified. Father, we can’t purify ourselves or even desire to tear our hearts away from the attachments of this life.  Our family, friends, and achievements are all to us at times.  But You have called us to higher life where we can hold on to You with all we are and also enjoy the blessings of this life without those blessings owning our hearts in trade.  We are yours.  You purchased us with the blood of your Son.  We are also the children of Abraham and as such, we can tap into that faith that takes us beyond what we see with our eyes into a trust that radically obeys.  Holy Spirit, please do this work in us.  As the days grow darker and the day of Your appearing comes closer, we need to cross the line and be all in with Jesus.  No more games.  No more comfortable religion.  No more halfway obedience.  All in – by Your grace alone.  In Jesus name we ask this, Amen.